Field Notes: the Performance Improvement Calculator

written by Anna Blasco
October 24, 2012

Community planners now have a great new tool to evaluate changes to their communities’ homelessness assistance system. With the newly released Performance Improvement Calculator, developed by Focus Strategies, you can use your community’s HMIS and budget data to see the impact a proposed change has on the rate of permanent housing exits and average costs.

It is easy to experiment with the Calculator because it comes preloaded with sample data, although you’ll get the best results if you complete the Calculator with your own communities’ data. I wanted to see, for example, what the impact would be if I reduced the average length of time adults and families stay in transitional housing programs by 30 days. I reduced the length of stay, and then checked the summary tab to see what the effect would be. The charts on the left of this post show my result – I’ve increased my permanent housing exits by three percent and cut the average cost per permanent housing exit by six percent.

Other things you can experiment with, either independently or all together, include:

  • Changing the average permanent housing placement rates for different kinds of programs (typically shelter, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing),
  • Changing the rate at which people return to the homeless system after being housed,
  • Moving funding from one type of intervention to another, and
  • As I did above, changing the average length of program stays.

If your community has independently completed the Homeless System Evaluator Tool, or has completed one as part of a Performance Improvement Clinic, you can use this data to complete the Calculator.